What is Private Fostering?

Private fostering is when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is living with someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more. This might be a friend, a great aunt, a cousin or someone else known to the child. A close relative is defined as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or step-parent by marriage.

Many parents who have arranged for someone else to care for their child don’t realise that they have entered into a private fostering arrangement when they have made informal arrangements with friends or extended family.

To keep vulnerable children safe and support families, by law parents and carers must notify their local authority if they have a private fostering arrangement in place.

There are many reasons why children are privately fostered. Such examples include:

  • parental ill health
  • children or young people from overseas who visit this country for education or health care reasons
  • children or young people who are living with a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home
  • children or young people whose parents work or study long or anti-social hours
  • children or teenagers on school holiday exchanges that last more than 28 days
  • children or teenagers who are on sports or music sponsorships living away from their families. A parent or an agency, such as a college or sports academy, would normally make such an arrangement

As a parent, what do I need to know about private fostering?

Even though this is a private arrangement, the law says that the local authority must ensure your child is safe and well cared for.

If you are thinking of placing your child in a private fostering arrangement, you must tell the local authority at least 6 weeks beforehand or in case of an emergency placement, within 48 hours of the placement beginning. If the arrangement has already started, you must contact Knowsley Borough Council immediately.

Contact information

Knowsley Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
0151 443 4311

Some useful links:

See leaflets for more information:

Private Fostering – A Guide for parents and carers_

Private Fostering – Children YP

7 Minute Briefing Private Fostering